EM-FIU Partnership Prepares Next-Generation Cleanup Workforce

EM and Florida International University officials join the DOE Fellows Class of 2017 and other guests at the recent induction ceremony.

EM and Florida International University officials join the DOE Fellows Class of 2017 and other guests at the recent induction ceremony.

MIAMI – DOE recently inducted several Florida International University (FIU) students into its fellowship program that serves as an incubator and pipeline for EM’s future workforce.

   “It is our hope at the Department of Energy that these STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students will be part of the next generation of scientists and engineers that will continue DOE-EM’s mission into the future,” said Kurt Gerdes, director of EM’s Office of Subsurface Closure, who participated in the induction ceremony.

   The ability to address EM’s scientific and research needs — ultimately aimed at meeting complex cleanup challenges — is rooted in EM’s partnerships with colleges and universities, including FIU.

   EM works to attract, train, and retain the next-generation cleanup workforce in fields such as nuclear, engineering, science, and construction — good-paying jobs supporting EM’s cleanup.

   Since 1995, FIU’s Applied Research Center has supported EM’s mission of accelerated risk reduction and cleanup of the legacy of the nation’s nuclear weapons program. Recent work includes developing robotic platforms and tools to better detect potential leaks in high-level waste tanks underground at the Hanford Site in Washington state.

   “We see the results that FIU produces in our technical areas of D&D, soil and groundwater contamination, high-level waste treatment and disposal, and information technology,” said Gerdes. “The outcome of FIU’s research is being integrated in real world application at our facilities across the EM complex.”

   The DOE Fellows Class of 2017 includes Joseph Coverston, Ryan Cruz, Katherine Delarosa, Christopher Excellent, Silvia Garcia, Alejandro Koszarycz, Manuel Losada, Ximena Lugo, Anibal Morales-Zambrana, Joshua Núñez, and Tristan Simoes-Ponce.

   Since its inception in 2007, the DOE-FIU Science and Technology Workforce Development Program has inducted 142 fellows who are mentored in research, development, and deployment of new cleanup technologies. The students participate in 10-week DOE internships and present their research at international and national conferences.

   The DOE Fellows Program results in a 98-percent hiring rate for students who complete the program, including 10 DOE Fellows hired by DOE, national labs, and DOE contractors; 13 hired by other government agencies; and 61 hired by the STEM industry.

   “The support that DOE-EM provides FIU is crucial for the development and training of the future workforce of scientists and engineers that will continue the DOE-EM mission into the future,” said DOE Fellows Director Dr. Leo Lagos, the DOE-FIU Cooperative Agreement’s principal investigator.

-Contributor: Jessica Gleason

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